Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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The Good Samaritan

by Benedek Rácz

I hastily push the trolley with 100 waterproof sheets (2 packs of 50), 4 pillowcases (yes,
that’s all that arrived this time), a bag of toothpaste tubes and two more cartons of kitchen
supplies. I hurry down the corridor, since here, during the hospital experiment period, I keep
receiving different tasks, which-after the silence of the novitiate house-whisper pleasantly,
“you are useful!”
As I run, suddenly someone calls from one of the rooms:
– Benny!
– But I have important work to do! – I say to myself – I have work to do, I have the 100
waterproof sheets (those packs of 50), 4 pillowcases (the ones that arrived), the bag of
toothpaste tubes, and…
– Benny! – Same voice, concealing a 90-year life story: made of storms and sunshine.
– Benny!
– I don’t have time now! – I always say to myself, but I feel my heart sinking: Because who
has time but me? Me, who left “my home, my country, my brothers, my parents”?
Well, I stop the trolley, with the 100 waterproof sheets and all the other little things I carry
with me. I put on the brakes. I enter the room. I crouch down, start listening to that trembling
voice, which is hard to understand, but encapsulates 90 years of life: parents and village,
shelter and bombs, husband and job, desires and poverty, wounds and failures. Everything.
And the joy of finally having someone who listens.
(cf Lk 10,30-35; Lk 18,29)

Benedek Rácz

Pause or play?

Are we on pause or are our lives still on play? Often, with the family groups I accompany, we ask ourselves this question. The public information, the debates, the everyday talks, seem to be almost geared towards emphasising a suspension of life, which began a year ago and is waiting for an event that will make us pick up where we left off. But, using a touch of realism, we realise that this vision does not hold water, it is not true. Why? In fact, our days have gone by and go on; we carry on with our commitments; we organise ourselves as best we can; we ingeniously mitigate the various burdens; we reflect; we rediscover the beauty of nature; we are more sensitive to solidarity with others.

Isn’t all this living? It is living a present, not dreamt of, nor taken for granted, nor planned, but it is living the “here and now” in fact. It is not being on pause, but being ‘differently active’, as one would say with an expression that is very much in use today. Positive and negative moments accompany us; feelings of joy, but also of sorrow; resignation and rebellion: is this not ‘being alive’? This was probably present even before Mr. Covid broke into our lives, but to become aware of it takes time and, sometimes, some event that brings us back to the ‘beautiful fragility’ of our existence.
So, continuing with the metaphor of the tape recorder, it is not a question of pressing rwd to rewind everything and return to the starting point. Nor is it a matter of hitting fwd and fast-forwarding to the end, without listening to the entire contents of the file/tape. Rather let the play continue; let our life not stand still; let us not give up looking for possible meanings and new viable styles. The present is telling us something. Let us help each other to listen, living this present, which will in any case be part of what we will build in our future.

2021-03-24 Fr Agostino Caletti – Master of Novices

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